So there is no question, right, that there are a lot more teachers using blogs and wikis and Read/Write Web tools today than ever before. And even though most people still report huge obstacles standing in the way regarding implementation of these technologies in their classrooms, it just feels like the winds are starting, ever so slightly, to shift in a different direction. (And no, I don’t think this is a “tail wind” from the EduBloggerCon love fest we just had in Atlanta.) More people are opening up to the conversation.
But here’s the thing that’s been sticking with me of late. For all of the talk about Classroom 2.0 and School 2.0 and Addyourwordhere 2.0, there still isn’t much talk about what fuels the 2.0…the network.
A couple of purposely vague examples. I listened to a presentation of late that attempted to define School 2.0 and did so pretty much solely on the grounds that we can have our students create and publish meaningful work to the world. Now I have absolutely no problem with infusing these tools into classrooms to allow kids to publish what they know to large audiences. That’s a great first step. But that’s not School 2.0 (is it?) And in another conversation I had recently with someone who is doing some really interesting implementations of social technologies into her district, the main success was that her teachers and students were now able to communicate more effectively with each other and parents. That’s not it either (is it?)
I know I visited this theme a couple of weeks ago at NECC, but in the time since, it feels like it’s been jumping out at me more and more. (Except when I was on the beach where even the fish weren’t jumping.) I’ve been trying of late to convince folks that until they understand the uses of these tools in their own learning practice they’ll be really hard pressed to deliver the different pedagogies that go along with them in compelling and effective ways. Yes, we can have kids create movies and podcasts and wikis and all sorts of artifacts that have meaningful purposes and messages. And yes that’s all good, but at the end of the day, all that’s about is being able to use the tool to do the same stuff we’ve done in the past only put it into a new form and offer it to a wider audience. The pedagogies haven’t changed.
But here is the bigger question, I think. Through teaching them to use these tools to publish, are we also teaching them how to use these tools to continue the learning once that project is over? Can they continue to explore and reflect on the ideas that those artifacts represent regardless of who is teaching the next class? Can they connect with that audience not simply in the ways that books connect to readers (read but no write) but in the ways that allow them to engage and explore more deeply with an ongoing, growing community of learners? Isn’t that the real literacy here?
It’s not just the Read/Write Web, is it? It’s more than that. (Someone already came to this conclusion a while back, I know, but I can’t dig it out right now.) It’s the Read/Write/Connect/Reflect Web as well. It is, in the words of Jay Cross in his book Informal Learning (which I’ll have more to write about later,) the “Learning is Optimizing the Quality of One’s Networks” Web. I love this other quote by Jay as well:
“What can you do” has been replaced by “What can you and your network connections do?” Knowledge is moving from the individual to the individual and his contacts. (18)
He’s right. This is our “outboard brain”. This is the power that the publishing facilitates. And this is what we need to get the conversation to, now that the tools have “arrived”.
Photo “The People I Follow on Twitter” by CC Chapman.
Technorati Tags: connectivism, JayCross, education, learning, NECC07, NECC2007
Doug Noon says
Will, maybe you or one of the other commentors here should explain what delivering “the different pedagogies that go along with them” means. I get the part about continuing “to explore and reflect on the ideas…” because I think that’s always been a goal of mine (and just any other teacher I know) regardless of whether we’ve got our students in front of a computer or with their noses in a book. This seems to be a sticking point in the process, and the school 2.0 discourse. And as long as we’re “delivering” things, aren’t we bound to continue walking the same path, as usual?
Kyle Brumbaugh says
I posted a comment on David Warlick’s blog about this time last year about how Web 2.0 technologies were going to change the educational system. Dave’s theory was that the top down nature of the educational system, with teachers as the source of information for students, as the power source to learning to take place that in a Web 2.0 educational system there wouldn’t be any thing to ‘power’ the learning.
My response back at that time was that the introduction of many different information and media sources, that a “chemical reaction” would occur as students began to access these medias and would serve as the power source for student learning.
It’s an interesting analogy, but I do think it accurately addresses some of the issues educators face as they introduce Web 2.0 technologies into their classes. The emphasis has to be on students taking responsibility for their own learning and the personal synergy that occurs as they access more media.
Here’s the post I put up on my blog about some of this…
Gary Stager says
Thank you for thinking out loud! It’s a most generous gift to your readers.
I appreciate that you yearn for a better educational system.
Why do you assume that the read/write web is superior to books? Schools have yet to embrace books and reading beyond a very narrow range of ideas and inauthentic tasks.
Are you asking whether kids will continue using these tools outside the context of school assignments? If they do not, may that demonstrate that the use of these tools is inauthentic and foisted upon students by well-meaning educators desperate to demonstrate the revolutionary power of blogging, wikis, etc…? Is blogging the new Algebra II?
If kids are indeed creating and publishing, they “may” be learning. They “may” be developing habits of mind and constructing content knowledge. Why then must you assume that pedagogy needs to change?
This is a very important point. You comments suggest that learning is a consequence of being taught. I do not share this view. I believe that learning is the result of learning – a consequence of experience with the learner at the center of that knowledge construction.
This is the fundamental problem with the “it’s about the information” argument. This premise is based on the assumption that information IS knowledge and that learning results from transmission – usually (although not exclusively) from an elder to a child.
There needs to be a clear delineation between teaching and learning.
The use of Web 2.0 technologies invariably focuses on the humanities (particularly language arts), but excludes most of the arts and sciences from the enormous affordances of the computer. This also reinforces a major weakness of “School 1.0” where the 3Rs are rapidly being reduced to Reading and Writing only.
Computing as a verb – of using the computer as an intellectual laboratory and vehicle for self-expression – a material with which you can invent new things and ideas – is increasingly marginalized as we focus on Web 2.0 and its bias towards language arts. Blogging about science or math is NOT science or math.
I understand the ease of editing and publishing and the remarkable potential for infinite audience offered by Web 2.0 technologies. Those are all good things for kids and adults. However, communications technology is quite unlikely to revolutionize either school or learning.
Will Richardson says
Ok…here we go again, Gary. Never said anything about one being superior to the other. I read a lot of books. I hope my kids read books, books that they find informs whatever they are seeking to learn. But there is more to do now. There are more ways to bring the ideas that books present into focus. More ways to discuss, parse, understand, vet, test, etc. You obviously don’t take every word you read in a book as fact.
Pedagogy needs to change, assuming, of course, we should be “teaching” at all, because I think we’re dealing with a different environment. I would hope that my journalism instructors in college would use different strategies today than they did in the 1970s. For that matter, I would hope that my science teachers in high school would as well. Yes, many of the outcomes are still the same. But some important ones are not. Back in my day, the published story was the end point. That’s not the case today.
You’re right in that learning is a result of learning. I’ve been “learning” this particular curriculum for six years now. I am this very moment learning. You’re teaching me, Doug is teaching me, others are teaching me because I am allowing you to, asking you to by publishing my thoughts and hoping (most of the time) you’ll respond. I’m not required to do this, but I have come to understand that it is in the continuing interaction of the ideas that I learn. And that it’s about finding what I am passionate about learning. I’m sorry that you don’t see this as an intellectual laboratory, and you’re right, blogging about science or math is not doing science or math. But science especially has forever been built on sharing and publishing the results of your work for others to build upon. Can’t these technologies extend those practices?
It’s not as easy as you tend to paint things, I think, as either this or that, one or the other. And even if you may not intend that, it is how it comes across. And heck, I may come across that way as well, even though I don’t intend to. I’m just trying to figure out how my kids get prepared for this world. But at the end of the day, they’ll probably just figure it out for themselves.
Great post with some excellent questions. The comments I was going to leave last night turned into an entry of my own this morning.
Ooops! That would be at http://www.assortedstuff.com/?p=2092.
This HTML stuff is just too confusing. 🙂
David Warlick says
Great post, Will. I’m typing this on phone, so it will be short, and forgive the typos. What I read in you post was an insistance among educators, traditional and progressive, to think about fianal products. In RL, what’s ever finished. For that mater, what do we ever start from scratch. It’s all ongoing, It’s all conversation.
One of the tips I’ve gotten from my own kids is that they see information as a raw material, something that something else can be done with. Mashups are the most obvious example. I would rather not look at the production of a video or a podcast as the end of an assignment, but as the beginning or continuation of a conversation.
We are so focused, as educators, with what is learned. I wish we were more focused on learning. Thats sorta what I’m thinking about school 2.0, while waitin for my connetion at O’Hare….
I am an educator who is enjoying reading your comments and learning from the interaction. Thank you, kc
a. woody delauder says
Great post and comments. I have been very vocal on posting comments and writing in my own blog about these subjects. I think this is a good thing. Before the MICCA Conference in Baltimore in April, I had not been exposed to the knowledge and ideas expressed globally on the read/write web. This would make me somewhat of a rookie when it comes internet publishing.
A comment that I remember from Will during this conference… “I have learned more in the last 6 years, than I learned my entire life in school” This stuck with me. I wanted to take part in this learning. Since the conference in April, I have made this an integral part of my life. I think it has exposed me to loving to learn. I think this is the important part for me.
One thought that goes through my mind on a daily basis…
What happens when these students leave my class and go on to a teacher that hands out worksheets and uses outdated textbooks as the basis for their lessons. This is my real worry. I wish other teachers in my district would get on board and embrace the read/write web.
Skip Olsen says
I, too, have been thinking lately about what we serve up as education. I dug out my notes from Seymour Sarason’s The Predictable Failure of School Reform (1991) and have also ruminated about Fullan’s work about reculturing schools. Here are my tentative thoughts.
1. As long as the structure of education (the funding mechanism, school board governance, top-down management, teacher as instructor, 50-minute periods, Sept-June school year, 8-3 learning, eggcrate schools, little meaningful staff learning, teacher attrition rate of 50% in first five years of teaching, curricula-centered rather than kid-centered schools, and more) doesn’t change, there will be no revolution in schools. Heroic educators, national reports, books from academia, union initiatives, advice and critiques from the business sector notwithstanding, schools have changed little since my father went to school.
2. As noted above, educators are only one part of a complex system that keeps things the same. What model do most parents carry around in their heads about what school is? What is changing about the way school boards govern districts? What are state legislatures changing about the way they interact with schools? How about the vast array of social services–how and when do they interact with schools? Businesses? While I wish educators had more influence or power to change “the system” so much of the circumstances of education given by others.
3. There is so much more to say. Let me end with a coupla quotes from Daniel Quinn (Beyond Civilization). “If the world (read learning) is saved, it will not be by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.” “Programs make it possible to look busy and purposful whild failing.” “Old minds think: if it didn’t work last year, let’s do more of it this year. New minds think: if it didn’t work last year, let’s do something ELSE this year.”
Thank you for you thought provoking post. I look forward to reading more.
Skip said what I was thinking–I think the problem is bigger than what technologies are used. I truly believe there are some huge issues that will need to change before any technologies make an impact. School is too long for some, too slow for some, too superficial for some, in the wrong language for some.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness–it makes “old” teachers like me think.
Will – I appreciate your reflection on using Web 2.0 tools and learning. Many educators get excited about learning new tools and immediately want to integrate them into their curriculum. What I hear you saying is that we need to stop and think why we are doing this and does this really represent learning (as oppose to just doing). Frank Smith said in “The Book of Learning and Forgetting” that you learn from the company you keep. Educators everywhere need to create a student-centered environment where learners have opportunities to create, interact, discuss, reflect, build, etc … and if that involves Web 2.0 tools – great. But if educators are only using Web 2.0 tools as an digital version of a worksheet or because it is the latest and greatest thing to hit Education 2.0 – then they are missing the mark.
clay burell says
I don’t normally read your blog because I don’t do well in crowds (and successful bloggers seem crowded, too, by the hordes of commenters) – but I enjoy your thoughts every time I’m alerted to them on del.icio.us or elsewhere.
I wrote a post two days before yours that Dana (huffenglish) references in the trackback above. It touches on the inadequacy of the “classroom 2.0” talk if the pedagogy and, I would write across the sky, relevant citizenship, are absent.
Why citizenship? Because it requires more than talk, more than communication, more than technology. It requires the real-world, relevant action, empowerment, agency that should be the ends to which all the above are means.
Otherwise, we’re breeding replicants of ourselves, which is not good for the future of our children worldwide.
Rather than re-write my post, “I’m Nobody. Goodbye to All of That,” I’ll just close with it’s closing, since I worked to get it right there already – or as right as I could, anyway.
Mark Ahlness says
Will, you asked, “…are we also teaching them how to use these tools to continue the learning once that project is over?”
Are we also teaching them how to learn to use ANY new tools on their own, whatever they will be – how to collaborate with them – how to share knowledge with them – how to define and solve problems with them? And to do all of this with fearless confidence that comes from successful experience?
The tools will always change. Right now in my third grade, it’s the blog and the wiki. In the next couple of years, who knows? My job, as a teacher of these young kids, is to prepare them with a set of skills and strategies that will enable them to effectively master and lead with any tools they encounter. To me, this is a big part of how a 2.0 classroom is different from a 1.0 one.
Tony Karrer says
I’m not sure I get why Classroom 2.0, School 2.0, Education 2.0, etc. are lumped so quickly with adopting Wikis, Blogs, etc. in the classroom. Yes, we can and should teach people these new life-long learning skills, and how to be able to continue to learn tools, and continue to develop their “learn how to learn” skills, but …
You can use these tools as a natural extension of School 1.0 type teaching. Maybe it’s 1.3 or something like that, but certainly it’s not as radical a change.
Brian Grenier says
For some reason your use of the term “artifacts” has stuck with me all day long today. Perhaps part of the problem is that some teachers are focusing more on the creation of content via 2.0 (the creation of which is a good thing, IMHO)and not seeing the benefits of the conversations and connectivity elements that these technologies make possible as well.
Just a thought.
Terry Elliott says
OK, here are some ideas that might us be better learners (btw, all good learners also teach).
# Realize that all solutions are truly temporary, some radically so.
# Donâ€™t underestimate how much the world is changing your students.
# Evolution may seem slow by nature, but it is actually punctuated with dashes and exclamation points and ellipses.
# Give up predictability.
# Be humble in presuming you know what is going onâ€“you donâ€™t any more than the person who cuts your hair.
# Beware conference philosophersâ€“we are all emperors with no clothes.
# Keep perspective. We are all â€œpicking up pennies in front of a steamrollerâ€.
I have more in a post about Taleb’s book The Black Swan at my site.
Carolyn Foote says
I agree with you about the distinction between teaching and learning.
I am curious about your statement about web 2.0 tools being focused on language arts to the exclusion of other areas.
Just to pull two disciplines out of a hat, science and history–both of those disciplines are researched based, and the research is furthered not only by the doing, but by the sharing of what is done. Without the ability to publish, communicate about, or share the research in science and history, the research itself would be almost pointless. The ability of the larger “network” to connect ideas is extremely important. The abilities we have now to digitize, verbally communicate with voice threads, skype or other tools can power these networks.
I think Will mentioned the Encyclopedia of Life example, maybe here or elsewhere?
So do these tools just add speed to these disciplines? I think they also add the element of discovery, the ability to put “two and two” together and discover, chart, or map something old, or something new.
(And I’m not meaning to leave other disciplines out here, just picked two as examples).
And I actually think writing about science, math, or history or any field on a blog or elsewhere enables a conversation, and is a learning laboratory for scientists, historians, and mathematicians, just as in other fields.
We discuss to learn.
Just my two cents worth here…
Thanks, Will, for igniting the conversation.
Dan L. says
Tools Tools Tools!
A pencil, a book, a telephone.
What skills do we need to use these “tools” and what functions do we accomplish with each?
A blog, a wiki, a podcast.
Taking a minimalist approach then, I like to think about these tools separately, relating how they are USED by different people for their most basic and appropriate functions. All following ideas are the “mashups” of recent conversation, the mixing and matching that add complexity to the main thought that they are used to CREATE information, FIND information, or TALK ABOUT information.
Jeri Hurd says
From a longer response in my blog:
“I would rather not look at the production of a video or a podcast as the end of an assignment, but as the beginning or continuation of a conversation.
We are so focused, as educators, with what is learned. I wish we were more focused on learning.”
That blew me away, because David Warlick’s absolutely right and describes what is so absolutely wrong with NCLB and standardized tests and the general way we educate students. We focus on content, not skills. We focus on product, not process. We focus on teaching, not learning. It’s not that the product isn’t important: Imagine trying to tell your boss, “Oh, I know the presentation wasn’t very good, but I learned SO MUCH putting it together!” However, we tend to rush students through those beginning and oh-so-necessary phases in our efforts to get something to grade so we can move on to the next bit of content we need to cover. We don’t give them enough time to explore and engage, because we have to finish Chapter 13 by January. A teacher I know once commented, “really this technology stuff is just the same thing in different format,” and I wanted to say “Maybe it’s the way you’re using it.” (but didn’t!)
More importantly, we’re so overwhelmed with the minutiae of the job, that we seldom allow ourselves the time to learn ourselves. This independent study has been a real god-send for me. I floundered the first few weeks, trying to figure out what I should be exploring, but as I searched and probed and dug, out of that mess process grew the roots of a solid understanding not only of the technologies, but of how they can be used to best advantage. Well, the beginnings of an understanding anyway. More importantly, I’m excited. Truly and honestly boring everyone around me with my enthusiasm excited. I haven’t felt that way about teaching in a few years; I can’t wait to try out my ideas this fall. And don’t we owe it to ourselves (and our students) to do everything we can to encourage and nurture that passion? To move beyond covering content and into enthusiastic engagement?
Gary Stager says
You’re of course correct that having a network of others to talk with and hopefully even collaborate with is a very good thing and one aspect of being a mathematician, scientist or historian.
However, first you need something to talk about – typically experiences in the form of research (in the historian sense = search for truth/quest for meaning, not the 5-paragraph school essay sense) and activities like experiments. Publishing, discussing and debating your findings follows the active doing of history, science, mathematics (and other disciplines).
All evidence points to the fact that schools are consumed by language arts and little else. (I included social studies in my original comments.) Assessment, even in math and science are really tests of vocabulary and text deconding skills.
Many Web 2.0 activities mirror the bias towards the humanities to exclusion of the arts and sciences.
Joel Rainbow says
I have long admired your timely and informative posts. This one raises a question for me regarding my district’s insistence that Web 2.0 is not to be deployed in the district classrooms. Their position affects so many people as it is the largest in Arizona, serving nearly 70,000 students. They claim that the CIPA standards require them to protect students from on-line collaboration. Could you point out some resources to help me refute their claim?